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Hartselle Enquirer
Photo by Jeronimo Nisa   Construction of the new Crestline Elementary School in Hartselle continues last week. The $36 million school will have pre-K through fourth grade students.  

Completion draws near on new Crestline Elementary 

By Wes Tomlinson 

For the Enquirer 

A consolidated pre-K program and additional space for special education are some of the benefits of the new Crestline Elementary facility that students will begin attending next school year, officials said. 

Construction continued this week and is expected to be completed this spring, wrapping up a construction project that began in October 2022. Hartselle City Schools Director of Operations Rocky Smith said construction costs for the new school will total $36 million. 

Crestline Elementary Principal Karissa Lang said over 720 students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade are expected to enroll next school year at the 105,000-square-foot school, which has a maximum capacity of 1,000 students. The current school is 75,000 square feet with 41 classrooms and is almost at capacity with close to 600 students. 

“When I first got here, we had 440 students and now we’re at 600,” Lang said. “In a seven-year span, that’s tremendous growth. We have a fantastic school system and I believe people are moving into this area because of Huntsville’s job growth. People getting jobs there just want a small-town feel and I think Hartselle has that.” 

The new school will have 65 classrooms including a pre-K wing toward the back, a larger sensory room, and a storm shelter capable of accommodating 1,000 students. It is located beside Crestline’s existing building on 600 Crestline Drive S.W., on the property’s south side. 

Lang said the school will also have a music room, making it more convenient for students rather than them having to walk to the detached music room outside of the current school. 

When the school opens, existing pre-K programs at Barkley Bridge Elementary and F.E. Burleson Elementary will be moved to Crestline because of overcrowding at their current schools. Lang said teachers from those programs will also move to Crestline. 

“We’ll retain all six pre-K teachers and their aides so that’ll be 12 teachers in total that we’ll have for pre-K,” Lang said. 

Hartselle City Schools pre-K Principal Dena Mayfield said having all pre-K programs in one school will present greater opportunities for collaboration among staff. She said pre-K enrollment in Hartselle’s three elementary schools totals 162 students, but she anticipates an additional 20 students will enroll next school year. 

Mayfield said their pre-K programs follow the Alabama First Class Pre-K curriculum. 

Lang said the car line for the pre-K wing will be separated from the main car line, something she hopes will cut down on traffic in front of the school. 

“With two lanes, we’ll be able to get some of that traffic off Crestline Drive and put it around back,” Lang said. “Right now, it all congests in the front. The traffic goes all the way down Crestline Drive and all the way down Frost Street and into Patillo Street.” 

Lang said the pre-K wing consists of 10 classrooms, each 800 square feet, and they’ll have 18 students in each of them. 

Lang said a new playground was recently built for Crestline and they will move the equipment, which is currently in storage, to the green space behind the new school. A special needs accessible playground will be built next to the main playground and will have two handicap accessible swings and a jungle gym built low to the ground which will make it easier for those students to climb. 

“A wheelchair ramp has also been built that will connect the special education wing with the SNAP playground,” Lang said. 

Lang said the playgrounds will be the last remaining projects of the school and said everything should be complete by August, but staff will begin relocating in mid to late April. 

Donna Pitt is president of the school’s PTO and has two sons enrolled in Hartselle schools, with her youngest entering third grade next school year at Crestline Elementary. She and her family live on the outskirts of Hartselle near Danville, but said they pay to send their children to Hartselle City Schools. 

“Hartselle just has a really good reputation for being an excellent school system,” Pitt said. “When our oldest was starting kindergarten, that’s one of the things we looked for. He’s at Hartselle Intermediate now in the fifth grade, but he went kindergarten through fourth grade at Crestline.” 

Pitt said she enrolled her youngest son in the school’s pre-K program years ago and it was phenomenal. 

“I think our pre-K program does an excellent job of preparing kids for kindergarten and the teachers really love what they do,” Pitt said. 

Smith said at least two wings at the southern end of the current facility are slated for demolition, but the district plans to retain the gymnasium. The school board is still discussing whether to demolish the whole building, he said. 

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